Consumer Editor Chris Choi answers people's questions on Jeremy Hunt's autumn statement and how it will affect their lives and income
I’m a mother on income benefits, how will the chancellor’s statement affect me? Hayley Gray, Nuneaton Hayley is on income support - the benefit for people on low incomes that has essentially been replaced by Universal Credit. Hayley also receives Child Benefits, and a lot of people will be affected by the increase in benefit levels announced today. Those on benefits will see a typical rise of £470 a year as payments such as Universal Credit rise with inflation of 6.7% which was September’s inflation figure. There had been fears a lower figure would be used, like the current 4.6%, but September's inflation figure has instead been used. 5.5m households will benefit. However - the cost of living has been rising which will swallow this up. Food is up by 10% and we expect an energy rise announcement tomorrow as the new energy price cap is announced.
I care for someone full time; will I be included in the back-to-work scheme Jeremy Hunt has mentioned? Stephen O’Shea, East Sussex
The chancellor launched a £7bn Back to Work Plan - this is essentially focused on people with disabilities or health conditions - not those that care for them. What has worried Stephen is that it comes with stricter sanctions for those deemed able to work but refusing to engage with Job Centre staff - they could lose benefits after 6 months, or after 18 months. People not finding work could face mandatory work placements, but it's important to note that this is not focused on full-time carers.
I'm a renter on not much more than minimum wage and hoping to buy my first home, how does the autumn statement affect my ability to save? Martin Mawdsley, Liverpool
The mortgage guarantee scheme that was due to end this year has been extended to June 2025, This enables someone to take out a 95% loan to value with a 5% deposit. It covers homes up to £600,000. Martin could be interested in changes to ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts). From April savers can pay into more than one type of ISA annually. At the moment you can only pay into one - limiting ability to move funds between providers.
ISAs will be open to what’s known as fractional investment…this means if you can’t afford a whole share (some company shares can be over £100 each) you can in future invest in a fraction of a share. It’s been tough for savers with low returns but things are getting better with the top cash ISAs now paying 5% or more.
I own a hospitality business. How will Jeremy Hunt’s announcements benefit us?Adam Couzens, London The measures for businesses could help Adam buy new equipment for his specialty roaster company. Business investment tax relief - “full expensing” - will be made permanent. “Full expensing” is a capital allowance tax scheme allowing companies to deduct 100% of the cost for equipment from their profits - equivalent to a tax saving of 25p in every £1 spent. It’s predicted to boost investment by £3b. The concern being raised is that this doesn’t help service businesses - such as hospitality which Adam’s firm relies on.
'I suffer from mental health problems, and I use a walking stick. I receive disability payments and universal credit; will I be forced into work and lose these benefits?' Paul Bell
First off, in general, benefits will rise with inflation, and 500,000 more people will be offered treatment for mental health conditions and employment support. The chancellor said that each year 100,000 people are signed off on sickness benefits without the requirement to look for work. Now, if 18 months pass, and after extra support, people still can’t find a job, they could be enrolled into a mandatory work placement designed to improve skills. This will only be implemented in 2025 and only affect new claims. The Nuffield Trust has welcomed new investment in mental health services over the next five years - but some other charities are calling these punitive measures.
What impact will local housing allowance have? Abdul Hai, London The local housing allowance will be updated for the first time in three years. This is how housing benefits are calculated for people who rent from a private landlord.
It has been frozen even though rents have been sky rocketing. Rent can be half the living costs of a private renter. The change should help about 1.6 million households averaging £800 a year.
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